Plans are well underway for the ICT strategy to be released, marking an important first step in delivering greater clarity and direction for both Western Australian government agencies and industry.
The Government’s vision is to achieve an agile and responsive public service that can deliver high-quality services. To realise this, the Government is focusing on technological innovation, both within the public sector and as a source of wider economic growth for the State.
The vision for Western Australia is to further strengthen and broaden the economy through building on the State’s strong record of entrepreneurship and smart solutions.
Traditionally, the government has worked with industry by specifying required products and services and restricting industry’s ability to suggest alternatives. However, there is little engagement with industry to develop innovative new solutions to providing public sector services, using emerging technologies.
Hon Bill Marmion, BE MBA MLA, Minister for State Development; Finance, Western Australia, is a champion for the ICT strategy and recently gave his comments on Western Australia’s approach to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation of Service Delivery and Open Government Data
However ambitious the Government may be, there are several obstacles that must be overcome before achieving this vision and many Governments are facing similar challenges from turbulent economic times.
“We are focussed on engagement, to better understand evolving needs, and to encourage innovators to respond with creative solutions. Small-scale testing of emerging technologies and the sharing of lessons learned will ensure government invests wisely in technology, and delivers the level of services the community expects,” stated Hon Bill Marmion.
Nevertheless, the Western Australian Government is committed to embracing technology to enable a more efficient and effective public sector. This would ultimately improve the delivery of services across the State.
“We are living in an age of digital disruption. Digital technologies are changing the way we live our daily lives, our industries and occupations,” stated Hon Bill Marmion, “Never before has information been more widely available to more people. Traditional barriers such as geography and the historical “tyranny of distance” no longer hinder our ability to communicate, educate and do business.”
Hon Bill Marmion believes that friends, colleagues and creative thinkers from around the world have never been closer, thanks to technology.
With this, he commented on how public data will drive the way we transform public sector service delivery.
“Across the globe, governments are increasingly seeing the benefits and the potential of providing access to the vast amount of data they hold. Responsive and innovative governments are looking for opportunities to connect and interact with their citizens, and see data as a way to enhancing transparency in public sector decision-making processes,” Hon Bill Marmion described.
“The success of this engagement model is twofold; not only do governments benefit, but citizens who make use of public data have the opportunity to be part of public solutions and foster a local culture of innovation. Today’s instant availability of Facebook updates, tweets and online transactions has increased expectations of government to enhance the quality, availability and personalisation of service delivery.”
Western Australia has been recognised as a leading contributor to open government, data and innovation. Just last year, Hon Bill Marmion launched the State’s Open Data Policy, making many high-value data sets publicly available.
As of now, over 300 such data sets from 24 WA government agencies are posted on Western Australia’s open data portal.
“Releasing this has allowed local innovators and businesses to generate new products and services in new ways to benefit the community,” Hon Bill Marmion said.
GovHack and driving Small Businesses and Start-Ups
One example of this open data policy being put to good use, is GovHack. GovHack is a 46 hour ‘hackathon’ where 130 local participants competed to transform government data into accessible community platforms and tools.
The event demonstrated the innovative and creative potential existing in Western Australia. An important element of the Government’s vision is to promote and nurture this talent.
“The winning team developed an application that allowed users to identify the Perth suburbs best placed for rooftop solar investment, based on total suburb energy generation potential and consumption,” stated Hon Bill Marmion, “These great innovations were born over a period of only two days. It’s exciting to think what will be achieved with more time and resources.”
As it has been estimated that these digital and future internet technologies have the potential to contribute more than $76 billion per year to Western Australia’s Gross State Product by 2025, the Government continues to foster this important industry.
And a significant portion of this growth will probably come from local start-ups. Over 335 active start-ups have been born employing nearly 3000 people, since 2010.
“Small businesses and start-ups require relatively small capital injections to commercialise new technologies and there is the potential for rapid growth,” said Hon Bill Marmion, “Obtaining this capital, however, has been a significant challenge, and the WA Government is focusing on ways to better support start-ups in the commercialisation of new technology.”
Government isn’t the only one to recognise the potential value of Western Australian technology innovation. This focus by government on ICT and innovation acknowledges the power that emerging technologies can possess when harnessed and deployed effectively.
There are continued efforts by the WA Government to deliver relevant services, enhanced or potentially personalised. This way, agencies will meet the needs of today’s, and tomorrow’s, citizens and communities.